6 Apr

There is a man in the corner dancing to jazz. He is unencumbered, steadfast in his execution. The boys on stage are wasting nothing. This is the be-all of performance, like making love in the summer moonlight when the world is ending. While the man in the corner is dancing, a couple in the shadows is kissing. Everywhere in this room, the divine is playing her fiddle. And I am with the ghost of the divine, trying my best to tell someone that they are worth every moment of pain they have experienced.

I spend my days with people who are struggling. They are struggling for their identity, or for some substance of life that seems to elude them. And I do my best to bring hope to the chasms of despair that lie along the well-worn trails of disillusion. Some, I have found, have walked these well-worn trails so often that there is no other choice. The chasms of despair are the only logical conclusion. And every once in a while, I fall hard with them. I “accidentally” take in their pain and let it sit in my body.

An old Chinese metaphor goes like this: You have a horse and a cart, and you take that cart to the same place every day. In fact, it turns out that everyone else is steering a cart down the same road. After a little while, the ruts are worn in the road, and it is difficult to steer the cart elsewhere. This is what we do with our brain and body. Rarely does someone say, “Hey, take that cart for a joy ride in the meadow.” Likewise, rarely does our family, our culture, or our tradition tell us to take our brain and heart in a different direction. When it does, it is within parameters, parameters set over centuries.

The last decade and a half has brought to our consciousness some profound, research-based knowledge of how we wire these paths of despair into profoundly stubborn neuropathways (refer to Daniel Goleman, Rick Hanson, Marsha Linehan, Jon Kabat-Zinn, or Daniel Siegel). But they also send a message of liberation. They point toward our mind’s vast creativity, our ability to witness the ruts and stuck places, and our ability to ultimately choose something different.

I look to the man in the corner, dancing maniacally without inhibition. I envy this man. I wish my brain could let go more often and dance in the meadow where no horse cart has ventured. I realize that we suffer when we cannot see the choices, the alternatives that are always present in our lives. Sometimes it takes someone else to remind us of the alternatives – that something else is possible.

So here I am, surrounded by my community and hearing this brilliant cacophony of sound down in the big city. I am finding liberation through the brilliant minds that fill me in this room. I envy the man who dances in the corner, and I envy the musicians who stand up there and play their experience into sound. I envy the uninhibited kissing couple. And I finally envy myself, because I abandoned convention to write this amidst an evening of celebration. I did it because I felt the part of me who was unencumbered and had something to say. And because I made that choice, my suffering fell away and a subtle ecstasy filled my body.

These are choices, and you have them every day: To be encumbered or to surrender to your heart; to give up or to fight for what you want; to brawl in the shadows or to fight with grace and grit.  So go.  Dance to the music in your own corner, or take it into the meadow where no horse cart has ventured. The journey there may crack you open a bit – and it might hurt for a moment – but I can attest: something powerful will meet you there.

One Response to “Liberation”

  1. Patricia Lasseter April 7, 2016 at 7:39 am #

    Yes, let’s take the cart into the meadow! Thank you.

    Sent from my iPad


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